10 TV picks: watching the detectives

We’re watching the detectives in this month’s 10 TV picks.

From acclaimed true life drama to much-loved national treasures, from ‘artificial intelligence’ to traditional period whodunnits, all of these shows are available to watch now.

Vera - ITV

It is 10 years now since Brenda Blethyn first starred in ITV’s Vera and DCI Stanhope has just returned for an 11th series.

During that time the brilliant Blethyn has turned Vera Stanhope - estimable and dishevelled in just about equal measure - into one of the great TV detectives.

Based on the series of novels by crime writer Ann Cleeves and set in memorable locations around the north-east of England, two episodes of the new series will air this year with a further four in 2022.

‘As sturdy and reliable as the Land Rover that DCI Stanhope continues to drive … our favourite TV detective.’ Radio Times

Code 404 - Sky Showcase/Sky Comedy

Code 404 is the all-star futuristic buddy cop comedy set in the near future with a difference … a big difference.

Daniel Mays is DI John Major, shot dead during a drugs sting and brought back to life with artificial intelligence. But his new incarnation comes with lots of glitches which have to be dealt with by his best friend and police partner Ron Carver (Stephen Graham) and estranged wife, Kelly (Anna Maxwell Martin).

Just returned for a second series, Code 404 was Sky’s biggest new comedy for eight years when it launched last year.

What they say: ‘The joy is that in another universe this could have been a po-faced drama … An original comedy from Sky and possibly their best.’ Daily Telegraph

Before We Die - Channel 4

Lesley Sharp stars as the detective whose personal and professional lives become entangled in the most devastating of circumstances.

Hannah Laing (Sharp) is forced to make a terrible decision when her estranged son (Patrick Gibson) becomes mired in the investigation into the brutal murder of her colleague and lover (Bill Ward).

A six-part thriller based on the Swedish drama of the same name, Before We Die transports the action to Bristol and conjures up a noir atmosphere all of its own.

What they said: ‘Sharp is superb in a slick, fast-paced police procedural … terribly good fun.’ iNews

Stephen - ITV

A follow-up to ITV’s Bafta-winning 1999 drama The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, this three-part sequel focusses on the 2006 investigation into the teenager’s murder.

Steve Coogan said it was an ‘honour’ to play DCI Clive Driscoll, the Met Police officer who led the cold case investigation that would finally secure the conviction of two of Stephen’s murderers.

Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce with his son, Joe, Stephen stars Sharlene Whyte as Doreen Lawrence, Hugh Quarshie as Neville Lawrence and Jordan Myrie as Stephen’s brother, Stuart Lawrence.

What they say: ‘Hugh Quarshie and Sharlene Whyte … perfectly combine a sense of weariness, anger, determination, pain and sadness … Superb.’ Radio Times

Annika - Alibi

Nicola Walker stars as Scandinavian detective Annika Strandhed who arrives in Scotland as the head of a new marine homicide unit.

Strandhed, a ‘leading light in the murder squad of the Oslo police’, has to hit the ground running while also coping with her ‘brilliant yet complex’ teenage daughter.

Based on his Radio 4 drama Annika Stranded, writer Nick Walker plays with the genre’s conventions by breaking the fourth wall and having Annika ruminate on her cases with the viewers at home, making for a bracing and refreshing watch.

What they say: ‘‘The dialogue is so droll and the performances so charming I’m in for what fisherfolk call the long haul.’ The Guardian

Deceit - Channel 4

Deceit is based on the hugely controversial ‘honey trap’ used in the police investigation into the brutal and shocking murder of Rachel Nickell in 1992.

Niamh Algar stars as the undercover officer at the centre of the operation to catch the Met Police’s main suspect, Colin Stagg (Sion Daniel Young).

Eddie Marsden plays psychologist Paul Britton, the nation’s most famous criminal profiler to whom the police turned to for help only for it to end in failure.

What they say: ‘Deceit is a gripping depiction of a terrible story, which will leave its audience questioning each character at every turn.’ Metro

Mare of Easttown - Sky Atlantic 

Kate Winslet stars as Marianne ‘Mare’ Sheehan, a detective in small-town America investigating the murder of a local woman while still haunted by an unsolved missing person case.

As both her career and her home life threaten to collapse around her, salvation may come in the form of her new police partner Colin Zabel (played by Evan Peters) or perhaps the arrival in town of author Richard Ryan (Guy Pearce).

Mare of Easttown is a crime drama that feels firmly entrenched in real life and in a career full of acclaimed and award-winning roles, might be her finest performance to date.

What they say: ‘Winslet’s performance as the complicated, loving, fallible and sometimes dislikable Mare [is] so subtle, understated and multilayered: it was a privilege to witness it. The same, undoubtedly, goes for the entire series.’ The Guardian

Grantchester - ITV

The unlikely crimefighting duo of detective Geordie Keating (Robson Green) and Reverend Will Davenport (Tom Brittney) are back for a sixth series of this much loved period drama.

Based on James Runcie’s collections of short stories, The Grantchester Mysteries, Brittney replaced Green’s original co-star James Norton two years ago.

A whodunnit which also has something to say about important issues of the era in which it is based, the new run begins in 1958 and a murder at a holiday park. It has already been commissioned for a seventh series.

What they say: ‘Cosy, nostalgic and gently compelling.’ Daily Telegraph

The Devil’s Throat: Walter Presents - Channel 4

The Devil’s Throat is the much acclaimed Walter Presents’ strand’s first Bulgarian drama and while the territory might be new, the quality of the drama is reassuringly familiar.

Set at the height of the country’s refugee crisis, a local police officer and national security agent investigate the gruesome murder of a retired border guard found on the shoes of an idyllic mountain lake.

The local prosecutor is keen to blame the murder on a refugee until another body is found. Then the murder count begins to multiply and a horrific secret is discovered.

What they say: ‘An intriguing crime drama with a … satanic, spooky twist.’ Entertainment Focus

Prodigal Son - Sky Showcase

Michael Sheen and Tom Payne returned for a second series of the compelling father-and-son procedural drama featuring the oddest of odd couples.

Payne plays the criminal psychologist helping the New York Police Department investigate murder cases, Sheen his once estranged serial killer father who turns out to be his ideal partner in (solving) crime.

The second series saw the addition to the cast of Catherine Zeta-Jones as Dr Vivian Capshaw and a memorable appearance by Alan Cumming as an impossibly vain Europol supersleuth.

‘An instantly addictive show, dominated by the blackly comic Sheen but sprinkled with delicious character roles. Highly bingeable.’ The Arts Desk

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